The Good Side

Written by Jo Langford, M.A.

When used responsibly, the internet can provide five essential elements of adolescent self-esteem: control over one’s environment, individuation, self-expression, connection to others, and acceptance. Read below to learn some important tips and tools to experience more of the good side when engaging online.

Social Media
  • Social media allows us to stay connected with friends and family, and to meet and interact with others who share similar interests through online groups, clubs, and teams.
  • Social media can help ramp up your creativity through the sharing of ideas, music, and art, and help you find opportunities to show the world how awesome you are!
  • Social media has been, and still is, a driving force for civil rights. It provides a validating, emotional support network — particularly for marginalized and minority groups. It helps everyone stay informed, interested, allied, aware, and woke.
  • It can provide a sense of belonging; for young people who manage any number of disabilities, are neurodivergent, are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, or those who have uncommon “niche” interests, the web has provided a unique conduit for building relationships with other similarly situated individuals.
  • It’s fun! Let’s be honest — there are lots of fun things to do using social media. Everything from creating and viewing TikTok videos, playing video games, reading books, chatting online with friends, and more are all fun and fulfilling ways to spend time online.
Screen Time
  • Screens can be a reliable and responsible source of information and education, and can double the chances of people reading every day.
  • Screens can help boost self-esteem by supporting both competitive spirits and creative minds through learning opportunities that require energy and determination: from playing an instrument or learning a language, to cooking and even learning TikTok dances.
  • Escape and entertainment are sometimes necessary, but the primary point of technology is to make our lives easier. Our efforts are more fruitful when utilizing tools such as calendars, timers, to-do lists, etc.
  • Online gaming can provide us with challenges and socialization outlets — not the same as physical exercise or an afterschool club — but through technology we can find connection, mental stimulation, motivation, and opportunities to set goals and practice negotiation skills.
  • Social interaction, including online games, can provide us with opportunities to deal with difficult people. In real-life we will rarely have to rescue a hostage, collect treasures, pilot spacecraft, or save the world, but we WILL have to navigate hostile, immature, and offensive people.
  • Gaming is a terrific way to spend time socializing, strategizing, and laughing with our family — creating traditions and memories that can last our entire lifetime.
  • Video games can exercise our cognitive development skills. According to research cited in The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud, Ph.D., and Ned Johnson, “many video games are ‘hard fun,’ exercising cognitive skills like pattern detection, eye-hand coordination, and hypothesis construction.”